Bridgestone, who won their first two MotoGP races with Camel Honda's Makoto Tamada this season, look set to expand their premier-class line-up further for 2005.
During an exclusive interview with Crash.net
, Bridgestone UK motorcycle race services manager, Gary Hartshorne, was asked if there would be any changes to the current Kawasaki, Suzuki and Makoto Tamada/Camel Honda line-up.
"As far as I know it's the current line-up plus another team (for 2005)," he replied. "That's what I think is going to happen. Obviously I can't say too much at the moment."
The likelihood of a line-up change has also been confirmed by others at the Japanese company and, while the Bridgestone representatives wouldn't comment further, other sources have confirmed that Ducati switching to Bridgestone is 'a possibility'.
Ducati have used Michelin tyres since their MotoGP debut in 2003 and, having suffered a tough 2004 season - where they took just two podiums - it would seem illogical for the Bologna based company to then switch away from the dominant MotoGP tyre brand.
While no-one that Crash.net
approached would go on record to discuss the possible Ducati move, we understand that the issue is linked to the brand of tyres Ducati supply their new road bikes with.
Most tyre manufacturers recoup some of their racing costs by coming to an arrangement, whereby the road bike side of each of the factory teams agrees to buy a certain number of tyres, at a reduced price, to be fitted to their new road bikes.
However, it is rumoured that - partly because the racing and streetbike sides of Ducati are so separate - Michelins haven't been appearing on the Italian road bikes in the numbers expected by the French company. A similar problem is thought to have prompted Suzuki's switch from Michelin to Bridgestone at the end of 2003.
It is not clear whether Michelin now want the road tyre issue corrected, and so are putting pressure on Ducati, or if Ducati are simply considering a better (financial) offer from Bridgestone, perhaps with a smaller or even non-existent road tyre deal.